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Archives for : Biometrics

India – #Aadhaar Card Expose #UID

By- Sushrut Mane

A)What kind of technology is it?

Aadhaar collects the demographic as well as biometric data of whoever who has it. Section 33 of the Aadhaar Act ensures that under the guise of “national security”, the government can access any information without providing any explanation to anyone. It does not define what is “national security” so any reason can be used to access and use this data. So in short, one can say that,

Aadhar is a surveillance technology masquerading as secure authentication technology.


  1. B) But at least it is not affecting anyone directly. Then why we should worry?

1.Aadhaar is compulsory for two more groups of citizens – victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, and workers rescued from bonded labor. The court took 15 years to decide who is eligible or not, whether the person is who they are claiming to be and Now, the government wants the victims to prove their identity in this manner again. Same problem with bonded workers. (2)

  1. Thousands of pensioners without Aadhaar or bank accounts struck off lists in Rajasthan (3)
  2. Jharkhand: Family denied ration over Aadhaar linking, girl starves to death (4) (This is recent news)

C)Where we have to link it and what can be its effects?

1.You have to link it with your SIM card, pan card, passport, bank account, voter ID, college/university. And if you want benefits of schemes like LPG, MGNREGS, etc. you have to link Aadhar to them also.

  1. According to Aadhaar act 2016,  “The Authority shall respond to an authentication query with a positive, negative or any other appropriate response sharing such identity information excluding any core biometric information.”

3.Which also means authority with whom you are linking Aadhar can have access to your photograph (which doesn’t come under core-biometrics) and your demographic information which includes as name, date of birth, address and “other relevant information” of an individual. It explicitly excludes race, religion, caste, tribe, ethnicity, language, records of entitlement, income or medical history.

  1. Well, this is legal (but worrying) way to give our personal details to authority. But there are other ways also.. Like:-  Aadhaar data of 130 million, bank account details leaked from govt websites: Report  (5)

5.To be fair, two safeguards are in place in the Aadhaar Act. One is that the requesting entity must inform you about the use it proposes to make of your identity information.( But who reads the fine print of the terms and conditions when buying a sim card, or before clicking “I agree” when installing new software?) The second safeguard is that the requesting entity cannot publish or display your Aadhaar number (or your core biometric information, but that is not accessible to a requesting entity in the first place).

  1. Note, however, that nothing prevents a requesting entity from publishing or displaying other identity information, as long as it has informed the concerned person.

But wait…

7.The Clause 33 (2) states that an official with the rank of Joint Secretary or higher may access a person’s identity information including core biometric information if the official has an order issued in the interest of national security by the central government.

The government has the power to know (or use) your fingerprints, iris scan for the “National Security”.

  1. D) If there are such serious loopholes, why Government wants to make it mandatory?
  1. The Supreme Court, way back in October 2015, clarified that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for any schemes/services other than ration (PDS), employment guarantee (MNREGS), LPG distribution, pension, provident funds (EPF) and Jan Dhan Yojana. (see the highlighted part – (6) )
  1. So today, whatever gov is asking to link this and that with Aadhar is actually illegal. And supreme court reminds this to center in last month.  (7)
  1. E) So is it necessary to link Aadhar with gov schemes?

1.As per “Government of India rule”, yes it is mandatory to link it for six welfare schemes, PAN cards, and mobile phones.

2.Other than these, ALL other schemes/services/benefits for which Aadhaar is being made mandatory go directly against the earlier Supreme Court order. Including the bank account linking.

  1. BUT the government continues its assault unabated. Even the regulations they cleared under the act were quite illegal and had many many loopholes. This is where the confusion begins.
  1. F) Aadhaar violates the fundamental right to privacy or not?

Yes, it does!

G)Then how the Aadhaar Act passed in Parliament? (read H) & I) also)

It was passed with shrewdness.

First, it was introduced in the Budget session of 2016 as a money bill. But Aadhar is not a money bill in any sense.

  1. H) What are money bills then?

1.Bills which exclusively contain provisions for imposition and abolition of taxes, for the appropriation of money out of the Consolidated Fund, etc., are certified as Money Bills.

  1. And Aadhar has nothing to do with these things. Only the speaker has the right to called a bill a money bill, but in case of Aadhar, Mr. Arun Jaitley himself introduce it as the money bill.

I)Why was it introduced as Money Bill?

  1. The Lok Sabha has majority members of ruling party but not in Rajya Sabha. Mr. Jaitley was aware that if this bill introduced as the normal bill it will be debated in Rajya Sabha.
  1. So after introducing it as a Money Bill, it will no longer under the control of members of Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha members can suggest amendments but Lok Sabha has every right to accept or reject those amendments. Guess what happens in Aadhar bill?

Lok Sabha rejected the amendments made by Rajya Sabha members and passed the bill. (8)

But the most dangerous thing is –

J)How Government is trying to set bureaucracy (and not democracy) regarding Aadhar Act?

For that, we take a wonderful journey all the way to Clause 58 on Page 17, to the very end of the oh-so-complicated-and-well-worded bill.

(1) If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may, by order, published in the Official Gazette, make such provisions not inconsistent with the provisions of this Acts may appear to be necessary for removing the difficulty: Provided that no such order shall be made under this section after the expiry of three years from the commencement of this Act.

This clause basically puts in a ‘lockdown’ provision. Before that comes into effect, they can make changes in the bill by notification in the Gazette ( a written record of bills which passed as an Act). Basically, bureaucrats will have a free reign over what this bill will do after it is passed by Parliament.

And this is very serious.

  1. K) What is the role of ministers in this?
  1. Arun Jaitley admits that he is forcing people to create Aadhar card and to link with Gov schemes (even though it does not follow Supreme Court’s order). –

Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) said the Supreme Court had said in September last year that Aadhaar is not mandatory and wanted to know whether the government was “forcing” people to get it.

Yes, we are,” Jaitley replied.

  1. Mr. Narendra Modi as a CM of Guj thoughts that Aadhar there is no vision in this scheme-

On Aadhaar, neither the Team that I met nor PM could answer my Qs on security threat it can pose. There is no vision, only political gimmick

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 8, 2014

  1. L) So who is really responsible for this? UPA or NDA government?
  1. The Aadhar card or  National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 (NIDAI)  was introduced by the then PM Dr. Manmohan Singh along with Nandan Nilekani as an optional card that wasn’t meant to be mandatory for all citizens. What started out as a simple identity card that would be provided to all Indians.
  1. The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016 is a money bill of the Parliament of India. It aims to provide legal backing to the Aadhaar unique identification number project by making it mandatory for people who want benefits subsidies or schemes.
  1. The foundational shift that occurred between the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 (NIDAI) and the Aadhaar Act 2016 is clear from their respective definitions of authentication:

NIDAI 2010: “The Authority shall respond to an authentication query with a positive or negative response or with any other appropriate response excluding any demographic information and biometric information.” (emphasis added)

Aadhaar Act 2016: “The Authority shall respond to an authentication query with a positive, negative or any other appropriate response sharing such identity information excluding any core biometric information.” (emphasis added)

  1. M) Conclusion-

Aadhaar’s purpose was drastically changed. It was supposed to be beneficial for the low-income group by providing subsidies to needy people and remove leakages in the system. The current version of it, which includes mandatory linking to companies and schemes, is illegal & risky. The Finance Minister’s replies to the opposition are super vague and show carelessness while introducing such important act. The disadvantages of this act are contradicting to the aim of Aadhaar Act 2016. The government must fix this issue before any major harm happens ( I think all possible negative effects have already happened.)

N)Fun facts-

  1. Aadhar is not mandatory for VIPs
  2. Your Jio card registered and activated within 5 minutes because of your biometric data that you provided (in this case it was your fingerprint). At the same time, you handle over your demographic as well as biometric to the Jio company. And this can be misuse (perhaps found to be misused  (9) )
  3. Making Aadhar mandatory is illegal. (I have shown you all evidence about it.
  4. In one rare case of mixed-up identities, 2 men end up with same Aadhaar number. You know, UID means- Unique…(10)
  5. In future Government can ask for DNA of citizen as a biometric data.

    I am not joking. This is what FM Arun Jaitley said –
    Shri Satpathi wants to know whether DNA can be part of it (Aadhaar).The act does not say so. Regulation can expand it.



    2. No aid for Bhopal gas victims-

    3. Thousands of pensioners without Aadhaar or bank accounts struck off lists –

    4. Jharkhand: Family denied ration over Aadhaar linking, girl starves to death-

    5.Aadhaar data of 130 million, bank account details leaked from govt websites: Report


    7.Supreme Court finds govt. defying its order on -Aadhaar

    8.Aadhar bill passed in Lok Sabha after rejection of amendments introduced in Rajya Sabha-


    10. In case of mixed-up identities, 2 men end up with same Aadhaar number-

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#AadhaarMafia Delhi Cop threatens activist – If you don’t have aadhaar or address proof you should be surrounded and killed

‘जिसका आधार नंबर और एड्रेस नहीं है हम उसे कहीं भी ख़तम कर सकते हैं’
‘एक अभियान चल रहा है घेरो और मारो’
Sub Inspector threatens  activist   Shabnam Hashmi 
New Delhi –  Shabnam Hashmi who is  a  founder trustee  of Pehchan , which  runs a small centre in Jaitpur extension and teaches school drop outs every year, coaches them to appear for 10th and 12th from Jamia. It also runs sewing classes for women.
She  received a call from Director of Pehchan coaching centre at 8.59pm  today who e told her  that Haseen husband of one of the women (Mubina) , who had learnt stitching at our centre, got a call from a man who said that he was calling from the Lajpat Nagar police station and was a sub inspector. He threatened Haseen and called him to the police station regarding some complaint. She gave me SI’s name and number.
Usually when someone is called at night we do try and call up the police officer concerned, try and arrange a lawyer to go with whoever has been called to the police station.,’ shabnam hashmi said  and added m’I did the same. Unfortunately my telephone did not have a call recorder downloaded. The conversation which was full of abuses, using highly derogatory and uncivilized language could not be recorded. I cut the phone after 15 minutes or so and downloaded a call recorder quickly. In between the person who claimed to be the Sub Inspector Sandip Malik from Lajpat Nagar Police Station called 4 times but I didn’t pick up the phone till the recorder was downloaded.
 Shabnam Hashmi ahs audio recording  which is self explanatory.
The earlier conversation was a lot more threatening and abusive as compared to what has been recorded.  I was directly threatened that I will be killed in an encounter and that there is the new law according to which whoever doesn’t have an aadhaar and address proof should be surrounded and killed (‘एक अभियान चल रहा है घेरो और मारो’ ).
The man who claimed to be the sub inspector called from mobile no 7065824289.
The conversation and the Sub Inspectors’ threat raise serious questions which the Government of the day and the Police Commissioner must answer.
Accoridng to truecaller, the number belongs to one Ashish Kumar and has also been indicated as a police number.

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Legal expert speaks out against biometrics #UID


Usha Ramanathan, an expert on law and poverty with students at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai on Thursday. Photo: K. V. Srinivasan

The HinduUsha Ramanathan, an expert on law and poverty with students at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai on Thursday. Photo: K. V. Srinivasan

“In India, we have no idea if biometrics will work or not”

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) should be wound up as biometrics has failed miserably in many parts of the country, said eminent legal expert Usha Ramanathan.

Delivering a lecture on ‘Interrogating the UID and the National Population Register,’ Ms. Ramanathan, who has been monitoring and engaging with the UID project, said: “In India, we have no idea if biometrics will work or not.”

“Two to five per cent of people do not have fingerprints that work,” she said, pointing to the study using biometric technology which was tested on 25,000 people by the Biometrics Standards Committee before commencement of the project in 2009.

“It is an anti-people project. I am not willing to have a technology god to oversee me. Companies handling biometric data also have close links with intelligence agencies,” said Ms. Ramanathan.

Following the memorandum of understanding between the Registrar General of India and UIDAI, the National Population Register is breaking the rule in collecting biometrics, she added.

“There is simply too much we do not know. The National Population Register is actually acting illegally. The executive has systematically ignored the order of the Supreme Court. Yet there is hardly any questioning and reporting in the media.”

She stressed the need for learning the principles of civil disobedience when the State sees itself above the law. “There has never been an audit of the system. We need to destroy the system.”

“It is not a unique identity project. It is a unique identification project. It is about helping agencies identify us,” she said.

Chairing the talk and moderating the discussion, eminent lawyer Geeta Ramaseshan, clarified why we need to be wary of the hidden agenda in official schemes for creating a citizens’ roster through invasive data harvesting.

Read mor ehere-

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Arun Jaitley – My Call Detail Records and A Citizen’s Right to Privacy #Aadhaar #Uid


By  Arun Jaitley

In the past few months I have been closely monitoring a series of news reports which deal with surveillance of my mobile phones. An effort has been made to get access to my call detail records. On two occasions senior officers of the Delhi Police have met me to keep me informed of the progress of the case.

The Facts

On three occasions the Delhi Police has officially asked for the call detail records of the mobile phone which I regularly use. These details have been asked for by the South District, the Central District and the Crime Branch of Delhi Police. The reason for officially seeking the call detail records are both curious and ridiculous. On two occasions for two different periods the Call Detail Records were sought ostensibly on the ground that they were required for a verification in relation to the crime of multiple murders which had been committed in a farmhouse in Delhi. On the third occasion a Head Constable of Delhi Police sought the details and successfully obtained them on the ground that he was returning from the Saket Courts, an anonymous source advised him to check up the call detail records of my telephone number since the same may provide some evidence in relation to a fake currency racket. Obviously, both the pretexts were palpably false. Even for the wildest of imagination there would not be any evidence available in my phone details in relation to these offences. I hardly have any familiarity with the persons involved in these crimes or in relation to the subject matter of the offence.

In another incident the Delhi Police unearthed an effort to a constable of the Police acting at the behest of a private detective agency to get the Call Detail Records of some of the phones which are used by persons around me. Two phones in my name are used by two drivers whom I alternatively use and the third one is used by my son. When I am in my car or at a meeting, I do receive calls on my driver’s numbers. The Delhi Police claims that this attempt was foiled by a vigilant employee of the Service Provider who suspected foul play in these transactions.

The details of these calls being observed through official and illegal channels were for the periods November-December,2012 and January 2013. It was junior officers of the police including the officials at the level of Head Constable and Constables who could get access to these Call Detail Records.

It is obvious that somebody during this period was desperately trying to look for some evidence in my call details. The combined effort has covered the phones which I regularly use and some phones of persons who accompany me which I may incidentally use. Regrettably the Delhi Police believes that each of these efforts are unconnected and there is no pattern in the fact that an attempt was being made both successfully and unsuccessfully to monitor the persons with whom I am in touch with during the critical period. I find it difficult to accept this explanation of the Delhi Police that it is unable to find out the master-mind behind this operation and it is merely co-incidental that so many activities were taking place at the same time to get at my Call details.

The Delhi Police would have me believe that these were unconnected developments. The inability of the Delhi Police to find out the master-mind behind this operation does not mean that there is no master-mind. Either the investigation is extremely incompetent to discover the identity of the master-mind or the Delhi Police finds it embarrassing to name the master-mind. My guess is still wide open. This could be an out-sourced operation to a Government agency or a private rogue operation.

The Effect

My object in raising this issue is not to play a victimhood card. I raise this issue because some larger questions of public interest are involved.

Firstly, every citizen in India has a right to privacy. His right to pirivacy is an inherent aspect of his personal liberty. Interference in the right to privacy is an interference in his personal liberty by a process which is not fair, just or reasonable. A person’s Call Detail Records can throw up details of several transactions. In the case of an average citizen it can reflect on his relationships. In the case of a professional or a business person it can reflect on his financial transactions. In the case of a journalist it can reveal the identity of his sources. In the case of a politician it can reveal the identity of the person with whom he has regular access. Every person has ‘a right to be left alone’. In a liberal society there is no place for those who peep into the private affairs of individuals. No one has a right to know who another communicates with him. The nature of communication, the identity of persons being communicated with and frequency of communications would be a serious breach of privacy. If Constables and Head Constables of police officially (even though on false pretexts ) or unofficially can get access to Call Detail Records of an individual (in this case Leader of Opposition in one of the Houses of Parliament) the personal liberty of an individual would be in peril.

In the case of a Member of Parliament, this raises an additional issue. A Member of Parliament like a media person receives information from various sources. It is in public interest that the identity of the sources is to be concealed. Most scams are exposed by insiders. If identity of sources are revealed there is a danger of the sources drying up and public interest suffering. A Member of Parliament has several undefined privileges. Nobody has a right to know who communicates with him. If those who communicate with him are exposed nobody would be willing to provide information to a Member of Parliament. This will be detrimental to public interest. If the privileged phone records of the Leader of Opposition can be accessed so easily, one shudders to think as to what would happen to an ordinary citizen.

This incident throws up another legitimate fear. We are now entering the era of the Adhaar number. The Government has recently made the existence of the Adhaar number as a condition precedent for undertaking several activities; from registering marriages to execution of property documents. Will those who encroach upon the affairs of others be able to get access to bank accounts and other important details by breaking into the system? If this ever becomes possible the consequences would be far messier.
Read morehere-

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#India – Infringing Privacy for the Other 5 Billion #Aadhaar #UID

An Indian villager looks at an Iris scan

Move over, mobile phones. There’s a new technological fix for poverty: biometric identification. Speaking at the World Bank on April 24, Nandan Nilekani, director of India’s universal identification scheme, promised that the project will be “transformational.” It “uses the most sophisticated technology … to solve the most basic of development challenges.” The massive ambition, known as Aadhaar, aims to capture fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans of 1.2 billion residents, with the assumption that a national identification program will be a key ingredient to “empower poor and underprivileged residents.” The World Bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim, effusively summed up the promise as “just stunning.”

Although few can match Nilekani’s grand scale, Aadhaar is but one example of the development sector’s growing fascination with technologies for registering, identifying, and monitoring citizens. Systems that would be controversial—if not outright rejected—in the West because of the threat they pose to civil liberties are being implemented in many developing countries, often with the support of Western donors. The twin goals of development and security are being used to justify a bewildering array of initiatives, including British-funded biometric voting technology in Sierra Leone, U.N. surveillance drones in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and biometric border controls in Ghana supported by the World Bank.

This vigorous adoption of technologies for collecting, processing, tracking, profiling, and managing personal data—in short, surveillance technologies—risks centralizing an increasing amount of power in the hands of government authorities, often in places where democratic safeguards and civil society watchdogs are limited. While these initiatives may be justified in certain cases, rarely are they subject to a rigorous assessment of their effects on civil liberties or political dissent. On the contrary, they often seek to exploit the lack of scrutiny: Nilekani recommended in another recent speech that biometric proponents work “quickly and quietly” before opposition can form. The sensitivity of the information gathered in aid programs is not lost on intelligence agencies: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Mazzetti recently revealed that the Pentagon funded a food aid program in Somalia for the express purpose of gathering details on the local population. Even legitimate aid programs now maintain massive databases of personal information, from household names and locations to biometric information.

Humanitarian organizations, development funders, and governments have a responsibility to critically assess these new forms of surveillance, consult widely, and implement safeguards such as data protection, judicial oversight, and the highest levels of security. In much of the world, these sorts of precautions are sorely lacking: For example, despite the success of information technology in Africa, only 10 countries on the continent have some form of data protection law on the books (and even those rarely have the capacity or will to enforce them).

Kenya is a good example of how these programs can go wrong. In the country’s recent election, a costly biometric voting scheme flopped, adding widespread uncertainty to an already fragile situation. The problems were manifold, from biometric scanners that couldn’t recognize thumbprints to batteries that failed and servers that crashed. As journalist Michela Wrong put it, “almost none of it worked.” With limited resources, why support expensive and often ineffective technologies like biometric voting when traditional systems often suffice? While biometrics could help clean up electoral rolls, they may very well serve to obfuscate the electoral process, as information is passed through proprietary applications and technologies, closed to public scrutiny and audit.

But the worries in Kenya extend beyond technological failure. Like many low-income countries, Kenya has historically lacked a robust program of birth registration, making public health work notoriously difficult. It also stymies the provision of education services and cash transfers to vulnerable populations. To rectify this, the Kenyan state has sought to enroll all adults in a biometric national identification scheme that aims to interoperate with various other databases, including the tax authority, financial institutions, and social security programs. According to the director of this Integrated Population Registration System, George Anyango, the government now has “the 360 degree view of any citizen above the age of 18 years.” The Orwellian language is particularly worrisome given Kenya’s lack of data protection requirements and history of political factionalism, including the ethnic violence in the aftermath of the 2007 election that resulted in the death of more than 1,000 Kenyans.

The Aadhaar project in India—a country with a history of ethnic unrest and social segregation, widespread political and bureaucratic corruption, and with no effective legislative protection of privacy—should raise similar, magnified fears. Furthermore, it’s doubtful the program could help bring about the social equality it promises. Proponents of these state registration schemes argue that a lack of ID is a key reason why the poor remain marginalized, but they risk misdiagnosing the symptom for the cause. The poor are marginalized not simply because they lack an ID, but rather because of a complex history of discriminatory political, economic, and social structures. In some cases a biometric identity scheme may alter those, but only if coupled with broader, more difficult reforms.

One of Aadhaar’s biggest promises is the opportunity to open bank accounts (which require identification). Yet, poor, marginalized Indians, even with an ID, find formal banks to be unfriendly and difficult to join. For example, the anthropologist Ursula Rao found that the homeless in India—even after registering for Aadhaar—were blocked from banking, most frequently for lack of proper addresses, but more fundamentally because, as she notes, biometric identification “cannot establish trust, teach the logic of banking, or provide incentives for investing in the formal economy.” Bank managers remain suspicious and exclusionary, even if an identity project is inclusive. Without broader reforms—including rules for who may or may not access identity details—novel identification infrastructures will become tools of age-old discrimination.

Another, more practical drawback is that biometric technology is particularly ill-suited for individuals who have spent years in manual labor, working in tough conditions where their fingerprints wear down or they may even lose full fingers or limbs. Even with small authentication error rates—say, the 1.7 percent that recent estimates from Aadhaar suggest—the number of failures in a population the size of India’s can be enormous. Aadhaar has already enrolled 240 million people, with plans to reach all residents. You do the math.

The growth of these systems is due in part to the lack of public education and consultation, as well as the paucity of technical expertise to advise on the risks and pitfalls of surveillance technologies. But certainly the international donors and humanitarian organizations that support these initiatives have a responsibility to critically assess and build in safeguards for these technologies. Given the enormity of the challenge facing these organizations, it is perhaps easy not to prioritize issues like privacy and security of personal data, but the same arguments were once made against gender considerations and environmental protections in development. Aid programs that involve databases of personal information—especially of those most vulnerable and marginalized—must adopt stringent policies and practices relating to the collection, use, and sharing of that data. Best practices should include privacy impact assessments and consider the scope for “privacy by design” methodologies.

As the rhetoric around Aadhaar makes clear, the promise of a quick technical solution to intractable social problems is alive and well. However, it is time to recognize that human development involves the protection of civil liberties and individual freedoms, and not blindly rush into the creation of surveillance states in the name of development and poverty alleviation. Donors and aid organizations need to remember that the other 5 billion deserve privacy, too.

Read mor where –

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Biometric NPR Makes Indians Worse Than Prisoners


By Gopal Krishna


Shri Rajnath Singh
Union Minister for Home Affairs
Government of India
New Delhi

Subject-Biometric NPR makes Indians worse than prisoners, violates Citizenship Act, Census Act and constitutional rights


This is with reference to the release of Press Information Bureau
(PIB) titled “Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh Reviewed the
Scheme of National Population Register (NPR)” dated June 18, 2014, the
release of the PIB dated May 31, 2014 issued by Prime Minister’s
Office (PMO) abolishing Group of Ministers (GoM) regarding Issue of
Resident Identity Cards to all usual residents of the country of age
18 years and above under the scheme of National Population Register
(NPR) and Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of
India related issues that deal with biometric aadhaar number and
Hon’ble Supreme Court’s orders dated September 23, 2013 in the Writ
Petition (Civil) No(s). Writ Petition (Civil) 494 of 2012 W.P(C)
NO. 829 of 2013, W.P (C) NO. 932 of 2013, T.C.(C) NO. 152 of 2013,
T.C. (C) NO. 151 of 2013, W.P (C) NO. 833 of 2013 and CONMT.PET. (C)
NO.144/2014 IN W.P.(C) NO.494/2012 in the matter of biometric
aadhaar/UID number linked to MHA’s NPR which also generates aadhaar
number. The Hon’ble Court has listed the matter for hearing in the
month of July, 2014 as per the order of April 28, 2014.

I submit that Hon’ble Court’s order in the “Petition(s) for Special
Leave to Appeal (Crl) No(s).2524/2014 (UIDAI versus CBI) case merits
your attention. It reads: “In the meanwhile, the present petitioner is
restrained from transferring any biometric information of any person
who has been allotted the Aadhaar number to any other agency without
his consent in writing. More so, no person shall be deprived of any
service for want of Aadhaar number in case he/she is otherwise
eligible/entitled. All the authorities are directed to modify their
forms/circulars/likes so as to not compulsorily require the Aadhaar
number in order to meet the requirement of the interim order passed by
this Court forthwith” on March 24, 2014 reiterating its order of
September 23, 2013.

I submit that it was reported on October 6, 2011 that Gujarat Chief
Minister, Shri Narendra Modi wrote to the Prime Minister questioning
the need for National Population Register (NPR) by Registrar General
of India & Census Commissioner, Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
Gujarat stopped collection of biometric data for creation of the NPR.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Shri Modi wrote, “there is no
mention of capturing biometrics in the Citizenship Act or Citizenship
Rules 2009”. He added, “In the absence of any provision in the
Citizenship Act, 1955, or rules for capturing biometrics, it is
difficult to appreciate how the capture of biometrics is a statutory
requirement. Photography and biometrics is only mentioned in the
Manual of Instructions for filling up the NPR household schedule and
even in that there is no mention of capturing the Iris”. (Reference:

I submit that after Government of Gujarat stopped collection of
biometric data, the then Union Minister of Home Affairs, Shri P
Chidambaram sent a letter to Shri Modi in August 2011 pointed out that
creation of the NPR was a “statutory requirement” under the
Citizenship Act, 1955, and “once initialized, has to be necessarily
completed”. The Union Minister of Home Affairs had also requested the
CM to instruct state government officers to cooperate in creation of
the NPR.

I submit that UIDAI and related projects like NPR treats every Indian
as a subject of surveillance unlike UK which abandoned a similar
project (that used to be cited by Wipro Ltd in promotion of UID)
because it is “untested, unreliable and unsafe technology” and the”
possible risk to the safety and security of citizens.” It was recorded
by Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance that submitted a
report to both the Houses of Parliament on December 13, 2011 trashing
the biometric identification project and the post facto legislation to
legalize UIDAI and its acts of omission and commission since January
28, 2009 till the passage of The National Identification Authority of
India Bill, 2010. Notably, UK Home Secretary explained that they were
abandoning the project because it would otherwise be ‘intrusive
bullying’ by the state, and that the government intended to be the
‘servant’ of the people, and not their ‘master’.

I submit that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Subordinate
Legislation is also seized with the compliant on “Subordinate
Legislation for Biometric Identity Card NRIC and Aadhhar/UID is
illegal & illegitimate and Constitutional, Legal, Historical &
Technological Reasons Against UID/Aadhaar Scheme on 18.3.2013.”

I submit that the entire issue is quite grave because the genocidal
idea of biometric identification is linked with the holocaust
witnessed in Germany. Such identification exercises have rightly been
abandoned in UK, Australia, China, USA and France. It is noteworthy
that Shri Nandan Nilekani as Chairman, UIDAI has admitted, “To answer
the question about what is the biggest risk” of centralized database
of biometric identification, he said “in some sense, you run the risk
of creating a single point of failure also” in his talk at the World
Bank in Washington on April 24, 2013.

I submit that five years of advertising and marketing by UIDAI with
help of a negative coalition of bankers, biometric technology
companies and a section of mainstream media that holds rights of
citizens in contempt created an illusion among the uninformed
citizenry that what pre-existing 15 identity proofs could not do, this
illegitimate and illegal biometric identifier will be able to do. The
new government has to demonstrate that it is not part of the coalition
of Shri Nilekani which wanted to collect biometric data any national

I submit that the advocates and supporters of biometric identification
who are part of the negative coalition that unconditionally and
blindly supports linking of fish baits for trapping the poor in the
biometric database are game for turning the all the Indians into
guniea pigs for an experiment that has resulted in incineration of
human beings in the past. The fact of this experimentation is
revealed from what Shri Nilekani said in his speech at the Centre for
Global Development, Washington. He said, “Our view was that there was
bound to be opposition. That is a given…we said in any case there is
going to be a coalition of opponents. So is there a way to create a
positive coalition of people who have a stake in its success? So, one
of the big things here is that there is a huge coalition of, you know,
organisations, governments, banks, companies, others who have a stake
now in its future. So, create a positive coalition that has the power
to overpower or deal with anyone who opposes it.”

I submit that a positive coalition of progressive political parties,
peoples’ movements and informed citizens will stand exposed as the
collaborators of undemocratic biometric technology companies, bankers
and NGOs will get a befitting reply during the upcoming elections.
These bankers, companies and their collaborators lost in UK,
Australia, China, France and USA, the new government should ensure
that lose in India as well.

I submit that Shri Nilekani’s method of reasoning is a case study, he
says, “We came to the conclusion that if we take sufficient data,
biometric data of an individual, then that person’s biometric will be
unique across a billion people. Now we have to find that out. We
haven’t done it yet. So we’ll discover it as we go along” on April 23,
2013. At his lecture at World Bank on April 24, 2013, he said, “nobody
has done this before, so we are going to find out soon whether it will
work or not”. No one can tell as to what is his premise and what is
the inference or how is inference is deduced from the premise he has

I submit that tricked by the marketing blitzkrieg, some political
parties are wary of taking a position that would appear to be against
pro-poor schemes not realizing that come what may the real beneficiary
of this biometric identification are the Big Data companies.
I submit that Shri Nilekani admitted at his lecture the Centre for
Global Development in Washington in April 2013 that UIDAI has “created
huge opportunity for fingerprint scanners, iris readers”. The purchase
of these machines with money is also a leakage that merits probe.
Leakage can be plugged by rigorous implementation of Right to
Information Act and decentralization of decision making instead of
adopting a centralization approach and technological quick fixes.

I submit that the entire Indian and international media was taken for
a ride regarding a so called turf war between the Ministry of Home
Affairs and UIDAI which media was made to understand that got resolved
by diving the Indian population in two parts of 61 crore and 60 crore
for coverage under National Population Register (NPR) which also
generates Aadhaar number and UIDAI. The fact is the terms of reference
of the UIDAI mandated it “take necessary steps to ensure collation of
National Population Register (NPR) with UID (as per approved
strategy)”, to “identify new partner/user agencies”, to “issue
necessary instructions to agencies that undertake creation of
databases… (to) enable collation and correlation with UID and its
partner databases” and UIDAI “shall own and operate the database”. The
executive notification dated January 28, 2009 that set up UIDAI
mentions this. The entire exercise seems to have been stage managed.

I submit that on June 29, 2013, Shri Nilekani reportedly revealed that
they were in preliminary discussions with embassies to use the UID
number to “simplify visa application procedures”. Isn’t passport a
sovereign document? It is noteworthy that Shri Nilekani referred to
Aadhaar as akin to internal passport. For passport, there is Passport
Act, under what Act is this ‘internal passport’ being promoted?

I submit that Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order must be looked at in the
light of what of Government of India’s approach paper on privacy
states. It says, “Data privacy and the need to protect personal
information is almost never a concern when data is stored in a
decentralised manner. Data that is maintained in silos is largely
useless outside that silo and consequently has a low likelihood of
causing any damage. However, all this is likely to change with the
implementation of the UID Project. One of the inevitable consequences
of the UID Project will be that the UID Number will unify multiple
databases. As more and more agencies of the government sign on to the
UID Project, the UID Number will become the common thread that links
all those databases together. Over time, private enterprise could also
adopt the UID Number as an identifier for the purposes of the delivery
of their services or even for enrolment as a customer. Once this
happens, the separation of data that currently exists between multiple
databases will vanish.”

I submit that the Citizenship Act, 1955 is “an Act to provide for the
acquisition and determination of Indian citizenship”. The Citizenship
Rules, 2009 provides for creation of a Register of citizens saying,
“The Central Government shall maintain a register containing the names
and other details of the persons registered or naturalised as citizen
of India”. The Act and the Rules do not provide for creation of
Citizens Register based on without biometric data. As a consequence
what the Union Home Ministry did under the previous government through
NPR is without any legal mandate. According to the Manual of
Instructions for filling up of the NPR Household Schedule, 2011
prepared by the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner
(ORG&CCI), Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the objectives of NPR
involves “Collection of personal details of all residents of the
country and Capture of photograph and finger prints of all residents
who are of age 15 years and above in villages/urban areas.” The data
collection for preparation of NPR is undertaken along with the House
listing Operations of Census 2011. It categorically states that “NPR
will contain the details of all the ‘usual residents’ of the country
regardless of whether they are citizens or non-citizens.” If that is
the case how can it qualify to be an act under the Citizenship Act and
Rules given the fact that the Register will have both citizens and

I submit that as per the Manual, NPR’s utility lies in creation of “a
comprehensive identity database in the country. This would not only
strengthen security of the country but also help in better targeting
of the benefits and services under the Government schemes/programmes
and improve planning.” In such a case isn’t Census itself quite
sufficient for it?

In fact given the fact that Census Commissioner is supposed to gather
the data of population under the Census Act, 1948 on the pre-condition
that it would be kept secret and it will not be revealed even to the
courts, when the Census Commissioner who is also the Registrar General
of NPR undertakes the collection of Indian residents’ data that
includes Indian citizens, a stark case of conflict of interest
emerges. This is so because unlike the data collected under Census Act
which is confidential as per Section 15 of the Act, the provisions of
the Citizenship Act and the citizenship or nationality Rules that
provides the basis for creation of the Register of citizens do not
provide for confidentiality. The fact is that there is no mention of
capturing biometrics in the Citizenship Act or Citizenship Rules. It
is clear that the collection of biometrics is not a statutory
requirement. This is not permissible even under Collection of
Statistics Act. But both Unique Identification Authority of India
(UIDAI) and ORG&CCI that are creating the aadhhar and aadhaar
generating NPR are collecting biometric data as well.

I submit that implementation of aadhaar and NPR s not a question of
duplication alone; it is a question of treating citizens worse than

I submit that the Identification of Prisoners Act provides that “Every
person who has been, (a) convicted of any offence punishable with
rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, or of any
offence which would render him liable to enhanced punishment on a
subsequent conviction, or (b) ordered to give security for his good
behaviour under Section 118 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898,
shall, if so required, allow his measurements and photograph to be
taken by a Police Officer in the prescribed manner.” The Act is
available on Internet.

It further provides that “Any person who has been arrested in
connection with an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a
term of one year or upwards shall, if so required by a police officer,
allow his measurements to be taken in the prescribed manner.”
As per Section 5 of the Act, “If a Magistrate is satisfied that, for
the purposes of any investigation or proceeding under the Code of
Criminal Procedure, 1898, it is expedient to direct any person to
allow his measurements or photograph to be taken, he may make an order
to the effect, and in that case the person to whom the order relates
shall be produced or shall attend at the time and place specified in
the order and shall allow his measurements or photograph to be taken,
as the case may be, by a police officer:”

Providing for a dignified treatment of the citizens of India, Section
15 of the Census Act establishes that “Records of census not open to
inspection nor admissible in evidence”. It reads: No person shall have
a right to inspect any book, register or record made by a
census-officer in the discharge of his duty as such, or any schedule
delivered under section 10 and notwithstanding anything to the
contrary in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, no entry in any such book,
register, record or schedule shall be admissible as evidence in any
civil proceeding whatsoever or in any criminal proceeding other than a
prosecution under this Act or any other law for any act or omission
which constitutes an offence under this Act.” Demolishing this dignity
of the citizens, the Union Home Ministry is dehumanizing citizens by
according them a status inferior to that of prisoners.

As per Section 7 of Identification of Prisoners Act, “Where any person
who, not having been previously convicted of an offence punishable
with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, has had
his measurements taken or has been photographed in accordance with the
provisions of this Act is released without trial or discharged or
acquitted by any court, all measurements and all photographs (both
negatives and copies) so taken shall, unless the court or (in a case
where such person is released without trial) the District Magistrate
or Sub-divisional Officer for reasons to be recorded in writing
otherwise directs, be destroyed or made over to him.”

But if one looks at the definition of the “Biometrics” which “means
the technologies that measure and analyse human body characteristics,
such as ‘fingerprints’, ‘eye retinas and irises’, ‘voice patterns’,
“facial patterns’, ‘hand measurements’ and ‘DNA’ for authentication
purposes” as per Information Technology (Reasonable security practices
and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011
under section 87 read with section 43A of Information Technology Act,
2000. It may be noted that last date of bid submission for opening of
bids for biometric enrolment was 8th Nov 2011. The rural bids and
urban bids for biometric enrolment were supposed to be opened on 9th
Nov 2011. Even as these exercises are unfolding, the fact remains
biometric data like finger print, voice print, iris scan and DNA do
not reveal citizenship.

I submit that officially, Home Ministry’s NPR which is mentioned in
Column 7 of the Aadaar/UID Enrolment Form seeks NPR Survey Slip No. is
aimed at creating a comprehensive database of all usual residents in
India based on digitization of demographic data captured during house
listing operation in 2010 and collection of biometric data (photo, 10
fingerprints, iris of both eyes) for age 5+. Census Commissioner who
is ex-officio Registrar General of India (RGI) has awarded the NPR
project to Department of Information Technology for 19 States and 2
Union Territories that covers a total population of 49 crores in urban
and 13 crores in rural areas, 74 zones and 410 districts.

It is relevant to note that Section 2 of the Information Technology
Act defines “data” as “a representation of information, knowledge,
facts, concepts or instructions which are being prepared or have been
prepared in a formalised manner, and is intended to be processed, is
being processed or has been processed in a computer system or computer
network, and may be in any form (including computer printouts magnetic
or optical storage media, punched cards, punched tapes) or stored
internally in the memory of the computer.” It does not explicitly
mention biometric data but given the fact that it refers to “whatever
can be processed in a computer system or computer network, and may be
in any form or stored” it seems implicitly included.

It may be noted that these exercises precede the proposed enactment of
Privacy Bill that defines “Record” as “any item, collection, or
grouping of information about an individual that is maintained by an
agency, including, but not limited to, his education, financial
transactions, medical history, and criminal or employment history and
that contains his name, or the identifying number, symbol, or other
identifying particular assigned to the individual, such as a finger or
voice print or photograph or DNA” in its Section 2 (p). The Bill
defines “surveillance as covertly following a person or watching a
person, placing secret listening or filming devices near him, or using
informants to obtain personal information about him” in Section 2 (o).
Section 60 (1) refers to “National Data Controller Registry” that is
proposed to be established as “an online database” and “appropriate
electronic authentication protocols”. It may be noted that DNA
Profiling Bill is also in the pipeline.

I submit that even as the surveillance infrastructure that was
bulldozed by the previous government unfolded in India, UK’s Deputy
Prime Minister Nick Clegg said in a speech in British House of Commons
said, “This government will end the culture of spying on its citizens.
It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated
as if they have something to hide. It has to stop. So there will be no
ID card scheme. No national identity register, a halt to second
generation biometric passports,” He added, “We won’t hold your
internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so.
Britain must not be a country where our children grow up so used to
their liberty being infringed that they accept it without question.
Schools will not take children’s fingerprints without even asking
their parent’s consent. This will be a government that is proud when
British citizens stand up against illegitimate advances of the state.”
The speech of the British Deputy Prime Minister is available at

I submit that it is quite significant to take note of these
developments to avoid the fate of Shri Tony Blair and his UK’s
Identity Cards Act, 2006. Both have been abandoned.

I submit that unlike UK, as per ORG&CCI, NPR process include
collection of details including biometrics such as photograph, 10
fingerprints and Iris information for all persons aged 15 years and
above. This is be done by arranging camps at every village and at the
ward level in every town. Each household is required to bring the
Acknowledgement Slip to such camps. In the next step, data is printed
out and displayed at prominent places within the village and ward for
the public to see. After authentication, the lists are sent to the
UIDAI for de-duplication and issue of UID Numbers. The cleaned
database along with the UID Number will then be sent back to the
ORG&CCI and form the NPR.

It is evident that ORG&CCI has amalgamated its two independent
mandates using two Forms for each household in India. The first form
relates to the House listing and Housing Census that has 35 questions
relating to Building material, Use of Houses, Drinking water,
Availability and type of latrines, Electricity, possession of assets
etc. The second form relates to the NPR that has 14 questions
including name of the person, gender, date of birth, place of birth,
marital status, name of father, name of mother, name of spouse,
present address, duration of stay at present address, permanent
address, occupation, nationality as declared, educational
qualification and relationship to head of family. There are 10 columns
in the Aadaar/UID Enrolment Form.

ORG&CCI admits that “all information collected under the Census is
confidential and will not be shared with any agency – Government or
private.” But it reveals that “certain information collected under the
NPR will be published in the local areas for public scrutiny and
invitation of objections. This is in the nature of the electoral roll
or the telephone directory. After the NPR has been finalised, the
database will be used only within the Government.”

I submit that while the dual work of Census and NPR has blurred the
line between confidential and non-confidential, UIDAI has gone ahead
to seek consent for “sharing information provided…to the UIDAI with
agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services” as per Column 9 of
the UID/Aadhaar Enrolment Form. Unmindful of the consent given by
residents of India (which is being ticked automatically by the enroler
in any case as of now), the fact is this information being collected
for creating CIDR and NPR is being handed over to private foreign
biometric technology companies like Safran group, a French corporation
with 30 % stake of French government for seven years.

I submit that World Bank’s President who introduced Shri Nilekani at
the lecture expressed his patronage for the project. Its video is
available Bank’s website. It is not surprising given the fact that
essentially it is part of its eTransform Initiative launched in April
2010 for 14 developing countries in partnership with transnational
companies like L1, IBM and governments of France and South Korea.

I submit that at another lecture on November 23, 2012 Shri Nilekani
talked about a gigantic naming ceremony underway-mankind’s biggest
biometric database ever and ominously stated that if you do not have
the Aadhaar card you will not get the right to rights. UID is like a
financial address for the people. The question is if Aadhaar card is
only an identifier of residents of India how does it accord to itself
an inherent right to approve or disapprove rights of citizens to have
rights? He mentioned the October 2012 report of the Report of the
Justice A P Shah headed Group of Experts on Privacy but ignored the
report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and Statement of
Concern on UID that Justice Shah had co-signed. When UIDAI Chairperson
acknowledged that privacy is larger than Aadhaar and says that legal
framework will even out the design risks, he took the audience for
ride because while the legal framework for both the UID and Privacy is
absent the implementation of UID and NPR is unfolding illegally and

I submit that previous Government had put the cart before the horse,
how does Privacy Bill make sense when privacy of citizens is already
violated through aadhaar/UID related tracking and profiling system
being implemented.

In the face of such assault on Parliament’s prerogative, State’s
autonomy, citizens’ rights and the emergence of a regime that is
making legislatures subservient to database and data mining companies,
the urgent intervention of the PSC, Parliament, States, political
parties and citizens besides your action cannot be postponed anymore.

In view of the above, the biometric identification projects like
aadhaar number NPR should be abandoned as it constitutes violation of
basic human rights of the present generation and future generations.

I will be happy to share the documents cited in this letter with you.

Yours Sincerely
Gopal Krishna
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL),
Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731
E-mail:[email protected]


Related posts

How Rajnath Singh is wrong about Biometric NPR and the Prime Minister is right #UID

Opposed by Narendra Modi, Biometric National Population Register (NPR) is aadhaar by another name


How Rajnath Singh is wrong about Biometric NPR and the Prime Minister is right 


No lessons being learnt from misuse of electoral database and census data by Big Data companies

 By-  Gopal Krishna

In a letter written to Minister of Home Affairs (MHA), Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) has submitted that Shri Narendra Modi had opposed biometric National Population Register (NPR) in his letter to Dr Manmohan Singh on October 6, 2011. It has argued that MHA’s support for 12 digit biometric aadhaar number generating NPR makes Indians worse than prisoners, violates Citizenship Act, Census Act and constitutional rights.


Isn’t there a compelling reason for MHA, RGI and all the concerned ministers and officials in the government to read the letter of Shri Narendra Modi to understand why he had opposed biometric NPR not? How can MHA deprive itself of the wisdom of Shri Modi without facing any consequence? If this government does not reconcile its actions in the light of Shri Modi’s letter, it will tantamount to breach of citizens’ trust. It will set a dangerous and unhealthy precedent and in future no one will believe even the written words of political leaders.


The MHA’s must explain as how is India’s NPR for identity cards different from Identity Cards that has been abandoned in UK. There is a need to guard against ID Card cartels and learn from the fate of such databases in Egypt, Pakistan and Greece. It must set up a committee to examine why countries like China, Australia and France abandoned such ID projects.


CFCL had appeared before t he Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance that examined the National Identification Authority of India Bill to legalize and legitimize aadhaar scheme. The PSC endorsed the concerns about national security and citizens rights and questioned and trashed the scheme.


The parliamentary committee had categorically raised question about the absence of legal mandate for biometric data collection. The parliamentary committee’s report observes, “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information of individuals without amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 as well as the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation, which needs to be examined in detail by Parliament.”


Notably, the PSC’s report revealed that “Bharatiya – Automated Finger Print Identification System (AFSI), was launched in January, 2009, being funded by the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, for collection of biometric information of the people of the country.” But admittedly the same is not being used by UIDAI because according to the Government, “The quality, nature and manner of collection of biometric data by other biometric projects may not be of the nature that can be used for the purpose of the aadhaar scheme and hence it may not be possible to use the fingerprints captured under the Bhartiya-AFSI project.” It is bizarre as why the parliamentary committee did not question AFSI program of Ministry of Communications and Information Technology headed by A Raja. How can this program be allowed to continue without “amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955”?


Despite such observation of the parliamentary committee, MHA’s support for NPR is quite inexcusable.


Besides the Ministry of Planning in their written reply stated, “UIDAI is adopting a multiple registrar approach and the Registrar General of India (RGI) will be one of the Registrars of the UIDAI. To synergize the two exercises, an Inter Ministerial Coordination Committee has been set up to minimize duplication. The UIDAI is making all efforts to synergize with National Population Register (NPR) exercise.” This recorded reply illustrates that NDA government’s proposal for NPR and UPA government’s aadhaar is simply the same rose with different names.


It is quite clear from the conceptual design that aadhaar and NPR is one and the same. This feigned ignorance seems to demonstrate the collusion between BJP and Congress on biometrically profiling Indians.  Admittedly, biometric data is a property. It is not surprising that property dealers of all shapes and shades are visible on the horizon.


The examination of the terms of reference of UIDAI reveals it all. The entire political class and citizenry was taken for a ride regarding a so called turf war between the Ministry of Home Affairs and UIDAI which media was made to understand that got resolved by diving the Indian population in two parts of 60 crore for coverage under aadhaar and the rest under National Population Register (NPR) which also generates Aadhaar number. The fact is the terms of reference of the UIDAI mandated it “take necessary steps to ensure collation of National Population Register (NPR) with UID (as per approved strategy)”, to “identify new partner/user agencies”, to “issue necessary instructions to agencies that undertake creation of databases… (to) enable collation and correlation with UID and its partner databases” and UIDAI “shall own and operate the database”. The executive notification dated January 28, 2009 that set up UIDAI mentions this. The entire exercise has been staged to hoodwink unsuspecting Indians.


If there was still any doubt about the oneness of NPR and aadhaar, the report of Press Trust of India of January 30, 2014 revealed the proposal of the Planning Commission to allow UIDAI to start enrolments in areas other than 18 states and Union Territories allocated to it. The Commission’s proposal is based on the view that this is required to speed up collection of biometrics details of residents and for issuing them Aadhaar numbers as well as a National Multi-purpose Identity Cards (NMIC) based on NPR. It was reported, “The Commission discussed the proposal with Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Ministry of Home Affairs. They have agreed that UIDAI can be allowed to enrol in some states where they are collecting biometrics details of resident, to speed up enrolments.”

It may be noted that the states and union territories where RGI is enrolling residents and collecting their biometrics details under NPR are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep. Notably, RGI is also enrolling residents in Udupi, Gadag, Uttara Kannada, Haveri, Davangere, Bangalore rural, Chikkabalapur and Kodagu districts of Karnataka. So far 14 crore Indians have been enrolled under NPR.


UIDAI has been enrolling residents in Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim and Tripura. It claims that so far it has enrolled 63 crore Indians.


Both NPR and aadhaar are online databases by design.  

Now that it has been established that surveillance agencies of USA, UK and their allies have dismantled firewalls created for online privacy and encrypted Internet communications, the new government must dismantle the illegitimate biometric database to undo the damage to done to Indians by the previous government.


In its letter CFCL said, “even as the surveillance infrastructure that was bulldozed by the previous  government unfolded in India, UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said in a speech in British House of Commons said, “This government will end the culture of spying on its citizens. It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide. It has to stop. So there will be no ID card scheme. No national identity register, a halt to second generation biometric passports,” He added, “We won’t hold your internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so. Britain must not be a country where our children grow up so used to their liberty being infringed that they accept it without question. Schools will not take children’s fingerprints without even asking their parent’s consent. This will be a government that is proud when British citizens stand up against illegitimate advances of the state.” The speech of the British Deputy Prime Minister is available at” It added, “it is quite significant to take note of these developments to avoid the fate of Shri Tony Blair and his UK’s Identity Cards Act, 2006. Both have been abandoned.”


During the election campaign, BJP opposed biometric aadhaar in strongest words. Now it is apparent that the MHA has accepted aadhaar as irreversible and as a face saving stance it will have citizens believe that it will not accept biometric aadhaar but will gladly do so if it is mentioned as biometric NPR unmindful of Shri Modi’s opposition to it.   


The technological drive to ensure mastery over human beings is not merely a by-product of a faulty political economy but also of a world view which believes in the absolute control. It has become more and more apparent that genocides, ecodisasters and ehtnocides are but the underside of corrupt sciences and psychopathic technologies wedded to new secular hierarchies, which have reduced major civilization to the status of a set of empty rituals, observes Ashish Nandy in his book The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism. 

The lessons from database based genocides are part of recent world history should not be forgotten in the face of a large section of complicit and partisan corporate media especially those that regularly received advertisements from UIDAI and its partners.


The MHA’s initiative for biometric NPR reveals that no lessons are being learnt from misuse of online electoral database and census data by Big Data companies. The companies like FourthLion Technologies and Modak Analytics have collected and analysed electoral data in the absence of any data protection law.  The latter analysed 18 tera bytes of data and built India’s first Big Data-based Electoral Data Repository system and vetted about data related to 81 crore people to help our client understand the electorate on a wide variety of aspects such as caste, gender, age and economic status. We used all the publicly available data provided by Election Commission and Census figures.

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#India – Biometrics for Social Protection Programmes Risk Violating Human Rights of the Poor #UID

  • Author(s): Usha Ramanathan

Biometrics Use for Social Protection Programmes in India Risk Violating Human Rights of the PoorThis contribution is published as part of the UNRISD resource platform for practitioners and policy makers Linking Social Protection and Human Rights. This part of the platform is a collection of expert contributions and commentary from advocates, practitioners, policy makers and academics sharing practical guidance and thought-provoking commentary on their experiences with a human rights approach to social protection. Please share your thoughts on this article in the comments space below.

Usha Ramanathan is an independent, internationally recognized law researcher working on the jurisprudence of law, poverty and rights.

Biometrics and the violation of human rights

Suddenly, biometric data is being gathered everywhere and from everybody by all manner of agencies. The idea of parting with fingerprints and iris impressions has been marketed as a means to more efficiently and surely deliver services to the poor. This, and the threat of exclusion from a range of services if a person is not biometrically enrolled, has placed the weight of such projects on the shoulders of the poor.

Biometric data is sensitive personal data. In May 2010, in a document titled Aadhaar: communicating to a billion, a team of Indian industry leaders who helped script a marketing strategy for the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)1 said, in a section on “Mental barriers to enrolment”:

      “There is likely to be a level of mistrust and inertia, given the track record of government programmes across time;… providing one’s thumbprint has a strong connotation of attestation by an individual. To do so for


    (the brand name for the unique identification number, or UID), without fully understanding its meaning, may be a mental barrier for some to overcome; people may perceive providing the data as something that makes them readily accessible for abuse by the government; privacy concerns regarding the security and usage of data; giving out personal information could be a barrier to some, though it is likely to be a smaller concern area.”

These concerns were approached by the state as hurdles to be crossed, rather than issues to be addressed. They identified partners who could help them sell the idea of parting with biometric and demographic information and giving it to the state and to industry which included: “advertising agency; media agency for mass media; market research agencies; public relations; call centres”. It is significant that the UIDAI set out its mandate as “(issuing) UID numbers to all residents in the country” while promoting the project as having the “basic objective” of “improved benefits service delivery, especially to the poor and marginalized sections of society”. The poor thus provide the justification for the larger project of databasing a whole population.

Corruption, leakage in the delivery of services, welfare fraud and slippages in the last mile are offered in explanation for why each individual needs to be distinctly identified. There is an inherent suspicion of people accessing services and welfare benefits, which is exaggerated by the preoccupation with reducing subsidies. The language that is developing around the use of biometrics in service delivery is of weeding out ‘ghost beneficiaries’, ‘eliminating duplicates’ and removing the ‘undeserving’ from the lists. This may seem an odd way to articulate an agenda for inclusion, and so it is. What it does do is require every recipient of services or benefits, time after time, to prove that they are worthy of welfare, and to demonstrate that they have an entitlement in a way that technology recognizes.

Uncertain technology

Even as biometric databasing projects take off in different parts of the globe, the technology is still uncertain. This is a narrative of the Indian experience.

In December 2009, a committee set up by the UIDAI reported that 2-5% of the 25,000 persons whose fingerprints they had harvested to perform a pilot “did not have biometric records. Missing biometrics is a licence to commit fraud.” So they suggested that iris biometric technology, which was beginning to emerge from the proprietary domain, could be combined with fingerprint records to try to help achieve greater accuracy in de-duplication.2

Early in 2010, the UIDAI issued a Notice inviting applications for hiring of biometrics consultant. This document carried a candid admission that there was a total absence of evidence about biometrics in the developing world.

    “There is a lack of a sound study that documents the accuracy achievable on Indian demographics (i.e., larger percentage of rural population) and in Indian environmental conditions (i.e., extremely hot and humid climates and facilities without air-conditioning).” And, “we could not find any credible study assessing the achievable accuracy in any of the developing countries. UIDAI has performed some preliminary assessment of quality of fingerprint data from Indian rural demographics and environments and the results are encouraging. The ‘quality’ assessment of fingerprint data is not sufficient to fully understand the achievable de-duplication accuracy.”

Yet, the decision had already been made that photographs, fingerprints and iris data would be collected, and numbers generated after ‘de-duplication’, relying entirely on biometrics.

In November 2011, the Director General of the UIDAI said in an interview: “Capturing fingerprints, especially of manual labourers, is a challenge. The quality of fingerprints is bad because of the rough exterior of fingers caused by hard work, and this poses a challenge for later authentication.” Reports on authentication published by the UIDAI in March and September 2012 abound with the uncertainties surrounding biometrics.

This, then, is an experiment with the entire population as the laboratory, in which the poor and the undocumented will have more to lose than the rest.

Whose transparency?

Biometric identification systems are not about identity, but about identification. Biometrics are stored and authenticated by an agency, and claims that persons make about who they are will be determined by technology and the person who wields the technology. The individual has no control over this process.

The identifier that is generated and seeded in multiple databases acts as a bridge between various silos of information. When several databases open up to each other, profiling, tracking, tagging and surveillance is rendered easy, and the individual becomes transparent to those who can access the system. This is an inversion of what right to information movements have been attempting to achieve in many parts of the world in recent times. In India, Parliament passed the Right to Information Act in 2005, pressured by a civil society movement that was demanding transparency and accountability from the government. The biometric identification project turns this on its head, attempting to make every individual transparent to the state and to private companies that use this identity platform.

In justification of the biometric identification project, a statement that is being passed off as axiomatic is this: that the poor have no interest in privacy; that privacy is an elite concern. It is food, housing, health services and education that they want, runs the justification. Yet, as far as is known, no one asked the poor for their opinion. Nor has any study been done to assess the value of privacy to the poor. Nor have constitutional positions—and whether rights that are fundamental to all persons can be waived on their behalf, or waived at all, or whether some rights and entitlements can be secured only if others are relinquished—been addressed.

Tagging, tracking, profiling the poor

It is no secret that the poor often find themselves in a twilight zone of legality. This is not because the poor are criminal, but because the law keeps them there. That the law in India, even today, treats a person who is without visible means of subsistence as a beggar, and a ‘beggar’ may be held in custody for periods ranging from one to ten years and beyond, is symptomatic of how the poor are viewed. Systems that tag, track, profile the poor and place them under surveillance have consequences beyond the denial of services, and enter into the arena of criminalizing poverty.

Technological determination of claims to identity, and of presence in various databases, is not only about privacy, but about personal security too, especially in relation to the state.

It is also about exclusion where either the technology fails, or where persons exercise their judgment and decide that they do not wish to be databased and transparent to the state and those controlling the data, or where those controlling the technology refuse recognition. In India, the language of voluntary enrolment has already given way to mandatory enrolment and seeding the UID number to get food in the public distribution system, to get work, to get cooking gas, to receive scholarships and pensions, to open and operate bank accounts, to register marriages, in rental agreements and sale deeds and wills. The poor have little choice in the matter.

Whether biometrics can uniquely identify is not the point. The point is that the regular run of people will feel watched and tracked and tagged and profiled, and that will have consequences for the way in which they constitute their politics and its expression. The vulnerability of poverty exacerbates this threat to freedom. Of course there will be someone somewhere who will say that the poor have no use for freedom.

1 The Unique Identification Authority of India was set up by notification dated 28 January 2009 to construct, maintain and own a database of residents. The number it generates is the Universal Identification number (UID), and its brand name is aadhaar. For more information about UIDAI and a collection of documents and reports see:

2 A process by which the fingerprints and iris impressions gathered during enrolment will be checked against the database that is being developed; this is expected to weed out the possibility of one person receiving more than one UID number through multiple enrolments.

ABOUT THE AUTHORUsha Ramanathan is an independent, internationally recognized law researcher working on the jurisprudence of law, poverty and rights. She writes and speaks on issues that include the Bhopal Gas Disaster, mass displacement, eminent domain, civil liberties, beggary, criminal law, custodial institutions, the environment, and judicial process. She has been tracking, and engaging with, the UID project (the Indian Government’s plan to issue citizens with a unique identification number) and has written and debated extensively on the subject. Her work draws heavily upon non-governmental experience in its encounters with the state, a six year stint with a law journal as reporter from the Supreme Court, and engaging with matters of public policy. Some of her writings can be found at the IELRC website. She studied law at Madras University, the University of Nagpur and Delhi University.

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Controversy surrounds India’s biometric database #UID #Aaadhar

Questions about the security of India‘s giant biometric database continue to be raised by privacy advocates

By Mahima Kaul / 11 April, 2014

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(Image: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock)


Established in 2009 by executive order, the Unique Identification Number Authority of India (UIDAI) has taken on the monumental challenge of issuing each resident of the country with a Unique Identification Number (UID), more commonly known as the Aadhaar card. The driving idea behind the card was to ensure that residents could have a singular identification card that can eliminate duplicate and fake identities and also can be verified in a cost effective manner. Biometrics are the primary method for identification, while other details such as addresses, family, and even bank accounts are linked to the card.

Recently, the UIDAI was in the news as it challenged an order by the Goa High Court to share biometric details of all enrolled Goa residents with India’s Central Bureau of Investigation in order to solve an investigation. The Supreme Court of India ruled that UIDAI did not need to share its data with any agency of the government without the consent of those in its database. In his blog, the former Chairman of UIDAI (and currently running for a seat in India’s hotly contested national elections)Nandan Nilekani wrote: “We have always stated that the data collected from residents would remain private, and not be shared with other agencies.”

An audible sigh of relief was heard in the media from privacy activists who were concerned that the data collected by the UIDAI would be easily accessed by any government agency once it was in the system. This concern for privacy and data protection isn’t completely unfounded. Indian media has reported on grave gaps in the data collection process. In March 2013, a Mumbai paper reported that data collected from residents in 2011 was still lying around in cupboards in a suburb, despite the area residents repeatedly reminding the authorities to take away the information.  The same state had, in 2013,  “admitted the loss of personal data of about 3 lakh [100,000] applicants for Aadhaar card”, an error that sparked concerns over possible misuse of the data, not to mention the trouble of having to register personal data all over again. According to the report, the data had been lost while uploading from the state information technology department to the UIDAI central server in Bangalore, Karnataka. Government officials tried to assure the public that the data was highly encrypted and could not be misused. However, this incident wasn’t unprecedented. Just the year before, veteran journalist P. Sainath of the Hindu had highlighted this issue in a talk, saying that: “You can buy that data on the streets of Mumbai. It’s already made its way there. What sort of national security will you have when your biometric data is up for grabs all around the planet? You outsourced it to subcontractors who have subcontracted it to further people. It’s now available on the streets of Mumbai, biometric data.”

Given that the government has spent Rs 3800 crore (around $600 million) on the project already, it is interesting to note that India has not yet passed a privacy law, a comprehensive data protection law and nor did the parliament pass the National Identification Authority of India Bill, which was rejected by a parliamentary standing committee on finance in 2011. As was reported at the time, the standing committee rejected the report on the grounds that the scheme had “no clarity of purpose and leaving many things to be sorted out during the course of its implementation; and is being implemented in a directionless way with a lot of confusion”. It also went on to raise concerns about privacy, identity theft, misuse, security of data and duplication during the implementation of the UID scheme, and cited global examples of similar schemes that were rejected.

However, it is useful to see the guiding principles behind the implementation of the scheme that made it so attractive to the Congress-led UPA II government. The spirit of UID seems to lie in two guiding principles; using Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to make government more effective, and entering the data game. In a recent interview to the Economic Times, Shrikant Nadhamuni, who headed technology for UIDAI is quoted as saying: “We wanted to move the ID game—from a state where some people had no ID and others had paper ID to something beyond even what Singapore had, in the form of smart cards, to online. Like biometric. Which is the future.”

The basis of the design of what was to become the UID was also laid out in the Report of the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects, submitted to the Ministry of Finance in 2011, headed by Nandan Nilekani, a respected figure in Indian business and later to become CEO of UIDAI. Others involved with the report were the chairman of the Security and Exchange Bureau of India (SEBI), the secretary, Department of Telecommunications of the Government of India, the chairman of the privately owned IFMR trust which seeks to ensure that every individual and enterprise has access to financial services, and a few other experts on the subject. Many government officers constituted the secretariat. The report put out some revolutionary ideas about how to integrate private expertise into the public sector. It deduces that “the most important lesson that needs to be acted upon is that business change’ should drive the design and implementation of these projects”.

This was to be done by implementing a National Information Utility (NIU), which would be private companies with a public purpose: profit-making, not-profit maximising. The NIU would be flexible in its functioning, and the government would keep strategic control over the project. Private ownership of the project should be at least 51% and the government’s share at least 26%. Once the NIU is to become steady, the government would become a paying customer and would be free to take its business elsewhere. However, the report also admits that given the massive investments in building the NIUs, they would essentially be set up to be natural monopolies. At the time, the report had looked at the following schemes of the Indian government: Goods and Services Tax (GST), Tax Information Network (TIN), Expenditure Information Network (EIN), National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and New Pension System (NPS). The first Unique Project to take off, however, was the UIDAI.

This strategy raised red flags as well. Usha Ramanathan, an academic activist, wrote in Moneylife that: “In this set-up, we are witnessing the emergence of an information infrastructure, which the government helps — by financing and facilitating the ‘start-up’, and by the use of coercion to get people on to the database — which it will then hand over to corporate interests when it reaches a ‘steady state’.” She continues in the same piece that: “The NIU was not explained to parliament, and no one seems to have raised any questions about what it is. This, then, is the story of how the ownership of governmental data by private entities is silently slipping into the system.”

Controversies surround the Aadhar project. Nilekani, who was appointed Chairperson of UIDAI in 2009 by the current UPA government, and simultaneously given the rank of a cabinet minister, is increasingly in the news because rumours are swirling in India that a new government might choose to shelve the project. The card, that was envisioned to become an almost one-stop-shop in the future years regarding the delivery of welfare schemes and subsidies, is no longer mandatory to avail some of these, according to India’s Supreme Court. This is a setback to the government that considered the Aadhar card a method to plug “leaks” in the government delivery systems.  Despite this, reports of data leakage, and even stories of fake Aadhar cards making their way into the news, the current establishment seems hopeful. The deputy chairman of India’s Planning Commission, Montek Ahluwalia, made a statement that the card did not require a legal basis to be used for transferring benefits to citizens, much in the same way citizens are not legally required to hold degrees to gain jobs.

The UIDAI project remains complex – a herculean task. The UK government shelved its identity card project because it was untested and the technology not secure, and because of the risks to the safety and security of citizens. With India in the midst of an election, it remains to be seen what will happen when a new government is formed, and whether the country can succeed in this task.

This article was published on April 10, 2014 at


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Aadhaar Project a Sham, Open callenge to Nandan Nilekani #UID

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200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


By Express News Service – BANGALORE

Published: 07th April 2014 08:34 AM



As the battle for the Lok Sabha elections intensifies, the fight against the UPA government’s pet Aadhaar project found support on Sunday as a group of academicians and technocrats spoke against the unique identification project in the city.

The head of the project —  Nandan Nilekani — is a technocrat himself and also the Congress candidate from Bangalore South constituency.

In a discussion on the project, organised by the Citizens for Democracy forum, all panelists spoke against the project and termed it a “sham” and a “project to fool people”.

The discussion was focused on the protection of data collected from citizens and its effectiveness and necessity in providing them services.

Professor Gopinath, from the Computer Science and Automation Department of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), said most companies which handle large data have not been able to devise complete solutions for handling that data.

“The question is, do you store all the data in one centre or do you store copies across different locations. The problem of consistency also arises when there are several copies being stored. For a project of such a big scale, false negatives and positives will arise.” 

He criticised the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) of not having a “clear working model in place”.

“They do not have a plan to deal with such issues. If they do, I haven’t seen it. Aadhaar is not something as simple as searching for something on Google. There is a real time guarantee needed,” he said.

Noted filmmaker T S Nagabharana said with most Indians holding ration cards or driving licences, an Aadhaar card was not required. “It is a project by the Planning Commission and the Congress,” he said,  commenting on the fact that UIDAI was set up without being passed in Parliament.

Kiran Bettadpur, CEO of  Cylive Soft corporation, said the Aadhaar project was the result of an executive order and not an act.

“The bill proposed by the government states the objective as ‘a bill to confer rights on the residents of India’. What residents are they talking about? Legal residents or illegal migrants?” he said.

He said that there were no legal provisions for action against card holders who introduce illegal migrants to make them eligible for getting a card. “It is a sham to make illegal residents legal,” he said.

Other speakers at the event were Shamasundar of research corporation ProSIM R&D Centre.

An Open Challenge to Nilekani

During the discussion, one of the speakers threw an open challenge to Nandan Nilekani to hold a public debate on the Aadhaar project. The speaker, V K Somashekar, and retired colonel Mathews




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